Monthly Archives: April 2013

Raw and Uncensored…


traveling stagemushroom

Hey! Welcome to 52 weeks until I’m 50 years old! Actually it’s now 40 weeks until I’m 50! If you are new to my blog, to the right are other subjects I’ve written. Some may resonate with you or at least give you a chuckle. If you are counting down with me,so glad you are still with me!

Sometimes we see ourselves differently than others. I often check my own barometer to see if I’m still a fairly low maintenance girl. Don’t misunderstand, I enjoy a good 5-star experience but a few nights under the stars can remind one of how to stay grounded!

Several years ago an old friend from high school reconnected with me on Facebook. One of our common threads is seeing live music. This friend had mentioned the Wanee Festival to me the last three years stating that it was an experience beyond all experiences. A “must do” for me. I wanted to attend but wasn’t sure the scene was for me. I went to the website. I checked out the forums. Should I be a “Wanee Virgin…a first-timer? Could I handle four nights and three days of continuous music in Live Oak, Florida? The festival is held on part of a camp ground that has over 700 acres of land with three miles on the Suwanee River bank-side. There’s primitive camping, slots for RV’s and a few hotels in the area. There’s two stages where bands play, the Mushroom and the Peach. The line up of music has tempted me for years. So Randi, are you going to pull the trigger this year and make it happen? Come on woman…only 41 weeks left until 50 years old. If not now girl, then when? It’s not like the Allman Brothers are getting any younger and neither are you! When I was younger, I camped. When I was younger, I could go a day without a shower. When I was younger, I could sleep anywhere. I’ve run marathons and had to make pit stops in the woods. What are you made of girl? What are you afraid of? You can do this, right?

More questions entered my thoughts as the event approached. A few voice mails with a taunting voice singing “Waneeeee” had me laughing and negotiating with myself. Could I be totally immersed in this music festival with 21,000 other people from Thursday evening until Sunday morning? Could I sleep in a tent under the stars with all that Mother Nature created? Could I be my most natural self? No make-up, no shower or toilet without a line, no refrigerator with an iced cold beverage of my choice. 357 miles away from all the comforts of home. Hmmm. Check off the box? Purchase the ticket? Make it happen Randi? Create another entry in your virtual scrapbook? Make a few new memories with an old friend? The answer came on a walk with my husband. He said, “Do what you love. Life is about being the person you are…you seek these experiences.”

Created my list, packed my truck and took off with my eyes wide open, freshly bathed. Four hours later I was sitting under the most beautiful Oak trees dripping with green leaves listening to music that made my heart filled with joy and watching an intense laser light show! Friday’s line up was beyond exciting. 12 hours of music, six standing in the rain with my yellow slicker on. I was determined to hear the Allman Brothers close the show at midnight. I was wet and cold! And, I survived. My rain slicker did not. Neither did my clothes. I toughed it out. I returned to my tent only to find a group of mosquitoes looking for dinner from all the rain. I made a decision at that moment to sleep in my Sequoia. I had taken the third row of seats out before leaving home and could tilt the second row up to leave well beyond five feet of sleeping area. Two layers of sleeping bags, one layer of a college comforter, two pillows and dry clothes, this chick was set. I dipped into my stash of comfort treats for some Twizzlers and a Vitamin Zero. Washed my face with wipes and off to sleep I went. Nine hours later I awoke to the most glorious day filled with sunshine.

Day three, completely immersed, I found my truest self. I can’t articulate well what happened that day but at some point I found a peace inside myself that had been hiding for a while. An easiness I had been looking for. There were many people I chatted with over the three days. Everyone was so kind to one another. I felt so connected. People danced, sang, swayed and hung their freak flags out together. There was no judging, no arguing, no pushing or shoving. At times I found myself with tears running down my cheeks as I listened to guitar solos. I looked over and saw the same happening to others around me. There were moments when I laughed at myself because I had my groove on and I didn’t care what it looked like. There were conversations with others that were raw and uncensored about what we were witnessing. I met a new friend, Leann, who traveled by herself this first time and was having the same moment I was while we sat on a picnic bench. We were meant to meet each other. Of that I am certain. There we were, looking at the stage from way in the back having a drink just soaking up the day. We saw the swaying of a thousand bodies. It was an overwhelming visual. Beach balls being bounced in the air, Frisbee’s being thrown, women doing the hula hoop around their hips and the “Sound of Sunshine” playing. I introduced her to a bathroom with a door. It’s amazing how grateful you can be for something that simple. We exchanged contact information and remained connected.

Long talks and storytelling late at night by the RV’s with old and new friends, laughter that filled the air, lights in the trees that sparkled as people swayed in their hammocks are forever etched in my memory. Raw and uncensored. There I was, day three, Wanee girl. I made it. And, Wanee is in me. I am forever changed. So when you are at crossroad trying to make a decision about what is ahead of you, ”Do what you love. Life is about being the person you are…seek those experiences.” Pull the trigger and bathe first!

Thanks for visiting and I hope you had a chuckle. You can subscribe to be notified when I blog below by signing up, follow me on Twitter @GatorgirlPress or Twitter @Diningduchess, follow me on Facebook @RandiAileenPress or Facebook@DiningDuchess. Or if you’d like to write me directly, my email is



I’ve Got The Magic Power…

Hey! Welcome to 52 weeks until I’m 50 years old! Actually it’s now 42 weeks until I’m 50! If you are new to my blog, to the right are other subjects I’ve written. Some may resonate with you or at least give you a chuckle. If you are counting down with me,so glad you are still with me!


Music means so much to me. I hear a song and I’m transported back to a moment in time. The song may remind me of where I was, a person I was with or a moment that just crystallized something for me. I can relate to the poetry or story the lyrics represent so often. You know what I mean. You hear a song that played when you had your first really amazing kiss. Remember the song that played when you didn’t want to leave someone as you were driving away? The tunes that played while you were hanging out with your friends and you sang the chorus in unison? Your first concert and all the other concerts you’ve been to where every word was burnt into your memory and you sang them with all your soul. The fist-pumping you do when you hear your favorites. Turn it up, louder, decibels that could blow out the speakers so you feel alive! I’ve got the music in me. I feel it coming over me….Somethin’s at the edge of your mind, you don’t know what it is. Somethin’ you were hopin’ to find. Your not sure what it is.Then you hear the music and it all comes crystal clear. The music does the talkin’, says the things you want to hear. I’m young, I’m wild, and I’m free…I’ve got the Magic Power of the music in me!

At 49.42 left until 50, lyrics and music are part of my being and fill me daily. It’s the way I communicate with others. Lyrics, song titles and even movie lines. I dig the poetry. I dig relating to the stories. I dig singing in unison with thousands of others. There’s nothing like a little tune-age to make you feel alive. So this week, I share my love of lyrics with you.

Here’s a little ditty from me, Ran. “Ooh you make me live, whatever this world can give to me. It’s you you’re all I see. Ooo you make me live now honey. Ooo you make me live..Ooh you’re the best friend that I ever had. I’ve been with you such a long time, you’re my sunshine and I want you to know, that my feelings are true. I really love you. You’re my best friend.  Life Is A Rock but the radio rolled me. Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me.Life Is a Rock but the radio rolled me, at the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie. And…no one…absolutely no one…should ever, I mean ever Rain On My Parade! Don’t tell me not to live, just sit and putter, life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter, don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade. Don’t tell me not to fly–I’ve simply got to. If someone takes a spill, it’s me and not you. Who told you you’re allowed to rain on my parade! I’m gonna live and live now. You with me? Because…Life is a Highway and I want to ride it all night long. If you’re going my way, I want to drive it all night long. Then morning comes and It’s A Beautiful Day, sky falls, you feel like it’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away! You’re on the road but you’ve got no destination. I want you to see the world in green and blue. And remember, One love, one life, we get to share it, leaves you baby if you don’t care for it. And there’s a time for everyone if they only learn, that the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn, There’s a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors, when the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours. Can You Feel The love Tonight? And, do you know that there’s a Hero if you look inside your heart? You don’t have to be afraid of what you are. There’s an answer if you reach into your soul and the sorrow that you know will melt away. I believe People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world. Isn’t it rich, aren’t we a pair? Me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air? Send in the Clowns! Yup…I love the clowns! But I want you to tell everybody this is Your Song. It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words. How wonderful life is while you’re in the world. But that’s not all, I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you, And I think to myself what a Wonderful World. I see skies of blue and clouds of white. The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night. And I think to myself what a Wonderful World. And maybe you can try to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart. Then people gonna treat you better, you’re gonna find, yes you will, that you’re Beautiful as you feel! And you can come with me to the Top Of The World. Look down on creation and the only explanation we will find, is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around, your love’s put me at the Top Of The World. Always remember, my love for you is immeasurable. My respect for you immense. You’re ageless, timeless, lace and fineness. You’re beauty and elegance. You’re a rhapsody, a comedy. You’re a symphony and a play. You’re every love song ever written. And guess what? You mean the world to me…

Thanks for visiting and I hope you had a chuckle. You can subscribe to be notified when I blog below by signing up, follow me on Twitter @GatorgirlPress or Twitter @Diningduchess, follow me on Facebook @RandiAileenPress or Facebook@DiningDuchess. Or if you’d like to write me directly, my email is


Running Down A Dream…

Hey! Welcome to 52 weeks until I’m 50 years old! Actually it’s now 43 weeks until I’m 50! If you are new to my blog, to the right are other subjects I’ve written. Some may resonate with you or at least give you a chuckle. If you are counting down with me,so glad you are still with me!

sole sista

The opening bars to Born to Run fill my ears loudly often when I start  my runs. Breathe “Tin Girl” …breathe. Inhale three counts, strike, exhale two. And the common chant in my head… Don’t let yourself out of the gate too quickly Randi. Pace yourself. Inhale three, strike, exhale two. Rhythmic. I’m striving for that pattern. If you run, jog or race walk, you dig what I’m saying here. If you don’t, totally OK. Running and racing is a sport that most people think is crazy. The physicality of my sport is brutal at times. “Pre,” better known as Steve Prefontaine, is a hero to so many in the sport of running. He’s been gone 38 years now but still remains in the minds of so many of us. I read a recent story about him in April’s Runner’s World and cried as Michael Heald, the writer of That Pre Thing, shared his recount of Pre and his connection to running. I’ve cried at the end of every race I’ve done. Can’t help myself. It’s an emotional thing… this running with thousands of others.

Running quotes also give me tons to laugh about. Barry Magee said, “Anyone can run 20 miles. It’s the next six that count.” Love that! And, “It’s not 26.2 miles…it’s 10 water stops.” Fred Lebow’s, “Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon.” And, “Anyone can run a hundred meters, it’s the next forty-two thousand and two hundred that count.” And a silly favorite, “At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill!” But the one that has always lingered with me is John Hanc’s quote, “I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”

I decided to run my first marathon at Disney when I was 38. 26.2 grueling miles around and through all that “magic” was a memory I will always cherish. It defined my “willingness” to push beyond anything I thought possible. Mind and body. Since then, I’ve done other half and full marathons. Marine Corps in Washington, DC was my favorite. I ran up the hill to the finish at the Iwo Jima Memorial and two marines placed the finisher medal over my head. I sobbed. Found my biggest fan, my Mother, who cheers me on at every mile and should receive a medal herself for the ridiculous schedule she keeps on those days. Cool down and realized I’m hooked again. Fly home, sign up for another. And there I was, clicking the button for The Disney Princess Half Marathon. It’s addictive this running thing.

I’m always looking for that next race. Alone, or with others. I run because I can. I remember writing that to folks as I was fundraising with the Team in Training program for Leukemia & Lymphoma that hooked me into becoming a marathoner. I run for the glorious feeling of being in the sunshine. I run to visit with the flowers, swamps, vultures, snakes, frogs, gators, horses, armadillo, ducks, birds and whatever else crosses my path. Inhale three, strike, exhale two. Running makes me take deep breaths. Deep breaths help me see what’s real everyday in the world. My world. And with 43 weeks left until 50, I’m incredibly grateful for what I’ve seen through these eyes running all over the world.  Here I am again. Click. Register again.Tower of Terror 10 miler. Up early to beat the heat, lacing up my shoes ready to inhale three, strike, exhale two.

I recently read a runner’s blog of a man in England. He captured so much of what I believe as well. “Racing along out on the trails, splashing through puddles, letting the rain drench us, the wind ruffle us, we begin to sense a faint recollection of that childish joy. Somewhere a primal essence stirs deep within us; this being born not to sit at a desk or read newspapers and drink coffee, but to live a wilder existence. As we run, the layers of responsibility and identity we have gathered in our lives, the father, mother, lawyer, teacher, labels all fall away, leaving us with the raw human being underneath. It’s a rare thing, and it can be confronting. Some of us will stop, almost shocked by ourselves, by how our heart is pumping, by how our mind is racing, struggling with our attempts to leave it behind. But if we push on, running harder, deeper into the loneliness, further away from the world and the structure of our lives, we begin to feel strangely elated, detached yet at the same time connected, connected to ourselves. With nothing but our own two legs moving us, we begin to get a vague, tingling sense of who, or what, we really are.” I love that.

I find the “real me” every time I hit the path around the swamp and park I hold dear. I’m Running Down A Dream every time I lace up my shoes. I am grateful to Petty who plays that song in my ear and paces me to inhale three, strike, exhale two.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you had a chuckle. You can subscribe to be notified when I blog below by signing up, follow me on Twitter @GatorgirlPress or Twitter @Diningduchess, follow me on Facebook @RandiAileenPress or Facebook@DiningDuchess. Or if you’d like to write me directly, my email is